After a long but pretty painless 22 hours of travelling, we picked up our car and checked into our Chicago hotel on Monday night. A ludicrously early start on Tuesday morning meant that we were able to get breakfast before anyone else in the hotel, before heading to the interstate to join every other Tom, Dick and Harry trying to get into downtown Chicago during early rush hour. Worth it when we arrived at Chicago, though, and checked out Lake Michigan (which is massive, and also surprisingly clear), before heading to the official start of Route 66 on foot to get our photo with the sign. The guy we handed the camera to to get a joint photo took a couple of semi-decent ones, but the highlight was the one where he decided to ignore the sign altogether and just take a photo of the lamppost instead! I haven’t uploaded that one! We also went up Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), which at 1,451ft tall is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere. The views of Chicago from the top were incredible, and one of the highlights of taking the elevator to the top was the so-called “sky boxes” – four kind of glass balconies that jut out from the top enabling you to walk out and see the ground 103 floors below you – quite spectacular.
After a bite to eat in the Hard Rock Cafe, we headed out along Route 66, making it a whole 0.5 miles before encountering a road closure and having to divert off the very road we’d just flown 4,000 miles to drive along! Fortunately we were back on track before long.
Once out of the city, the draw of Route 66 moves from the commercial to the wonderfully quirky or downright weird. Our first stop was at a place with a statue outside called the Gemini Giant. An imposing, 28 foot tall man wearing a helmet and holding a rocket for no apparent reason, he is the first of many random and bizarre sights people have erected alongside Route 66 in order to, basically, keep people coming back to Route 66.
The next stop, the Polka Dot Drive In, a completely unremarkable venue aside from the fact there are four life size statues outside of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Betty Boo. I can’t see any immediate connection between the four of them, especially given one of them isn’t even real, yet they stand proudly together outside this place, solely to draw people in.
We’re now in Springfield, IL. Is this the one The Simpsons live in? No, but Abraham Lincoln did, and was also buried here, so tomorrow we’re off to check out his tomb and one of the many museums that pay homage to him. Hope everyone back home is okay; don’t forget you can leave a comment below if you wish – it doesn’t matter if you give a real email address or not. See you soon!